|Nadal produces one of the great shots in tennis history on his way to defeat in the Spanish capital [AFP]
It was a classic Rafael Nadal moment when, having lost the first set of the Madrid Open final against Novak Djokovic, the Spaniard ran down the Serb's deft lob and, with his back to the net, flicked a shot through his legs which sailed nonchalantly over his opponent and dropped down for an astonishing winner.
Undoubtedly it was the shot of the competition. The crowd roared.
Manolo Santana, the organiser of another spectacular edition of the tournament, smiled in open-mouthed disbelief. It was a moment of Nadal magic.
And at what a moment: it set up a break of Djokovic's serve which promptly came to pass.
The packed Centre Court of the Caja Magica sensed a comeback as had happened the previous day as the home favourite came back from a set down to defeat third seeded Roger Federer.
But that moment of Nadal magic was not to be enough on this final day when the lower seeded players triumphed; a few hours earlier, Petra Kvitova, the Czech ranked 18th in the world, had won the women’s final by 7-6, 6-4 against number four Victoria Azarenka.
"We know each other so its tough to find the key, but I think it's who will play faster, who will be the more aggressive," the victorious Kvitova said after Sunday's match.
The same could be applied to the men's final between two opponents who know each other very well, and both of whom entered the final with enviable winning streaks to their name.
Djokovic was in the final the more aggressive player, with Nadal never, apart from that magical shot, finding his rhythm sufficiently to really trouble the Serbian who must now have his sights firmly fixed on challenging the Spaniard for that number one spot.
The final score-line of 7-5, 6-4 may have somewhat disappointed the home crowd, including the likes of Real Madrid football players Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo in the stadium, but it was an entirely deserved victory for the world number two who has not tasted defeat in 34 consecutive matches.
Thirty-two of those have come this year. What will be interesting to see is whether that run can be extended all the way to the French Open, or whether Nadal might indeed take revenge for this loss in Rome, the next stop in the Masters series.
Source: Al Jazeera